The pandemic induced total rout of tourism has made the forthcoming IATO election the single most important in its four decades of history. Members need to keep sight of the big picture.
In the 40 odd years of IATO’s existence, this is going to be its biggest election. Never the industry was tested like this. My guess is members will vote markedly different than before. Smokescreens shouldn’t be a bigger factor this time around. Covid has surely sharpened our capacity to see through speeches and intentions.
Anyway, whoever wins must lay greatest emphasis in effectively lobbying to bring synergy amongst the different Government departments or ministries like tourism, commerce, external affairs, finance, forest & environment, etc. etc. An uphill task indeed, but we need to relentlessly persist in this endeavor.
In fact, what prompts me to write this is a TV discussion last evening on the forthcoming visit of Ethiopian Finance Minister. The Ethiopian officials, in the debate, showed greater interest and confidence in establishing closer business and other strategic ties with India than China. Their only feedback was that our departments need greater synergy. The same applies for the robust growth of inbound tourism that we all aspire for, for our country and our businesses.
We will need to reach out to the like-minded people in the government, well-prepared and with convincing arguments. Effective marketing and promotion overseas, efficient public-private coordination and use of resources, adequate budgetary allocation, exciting MDA schemes, right policy support, deserved recognition like getting tourism exports to be treated at par with merchandise exports, incentives and schemes like SEIS, RoDTEP etc. to be availed through Ministry of Commerce, greater recognition of inbound tour operators, and many more issues can be solved in no time.
As and when achieved, this will open India to international tourism like never before. We have the capacity to not just double but treble the FTA (Foreign Tourist Arrival) numbers to India in five to six years. Besides the huge socio-economic benefits for the country, this means that we are also talking of greater dividends for tour operators and doubling or trebling our (IATO members) own numbers and businesses in the foreseeable future!
By Sarab Jit Singh, MD, Travelite (India), Founder & Former Vice Chairman, FAITH, Former Sr. Vice President, IATO and Founder & Former President, ITTA.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of T3 and T3 does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)